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what does a healthy budgie look like?

17 Signs of Good Health in A Budgie

Budgies have an average lifespan of between 5-8 years. However, depending on how well you take care of them, a budgie in good health can live for several extra years.

Although certain signs of good health in budgies are obvious due to their physical state, others require you to pay close attention to their behavior.

Signs Your Budgie Is Healthy

Budgies rarely manifest signs of illness until the sickness becomes severe.

So, you need to know what a healthy budgie looks like. This will help you identify when your budgie is sick and requires veterinary attention.

Acting early can be crucial in safeguarding your budgie’s long-term health, as all species of parrots have sensitive immune and respiratory systems.

Common signs of good health in budgies include the following:

1/ Clear and Bright Eyes

A healthy budgie’s eyes should be shiny and clear with no discharge, redness, or swelling.

If you notice any discharge or cloudiness around a budgie’s eyes, this indicates irritation or allergic reactions.

Usually, budgies exhibit these symptoms when exposed to smoke, dust, and mold. For example, lighting a petroleum-based wax candle in a budgie’s room.

Watery eyes may also be a sign of infection.

2/ Good Appetite

Healthy budgies have a voracious appetite and will maintain a regular feeding schedule.

Most budgies eat in the morning and evening before they go to sleep. Deviation from this routine usually indicates illness or other health problems, such as a gastrointestinal blockage.

Sick budgies will often spend time around their feeding bowl without eating.

how to health check a budgie

3/ Vibrant Plumage

A beautiful plumage is one of the most striking features of healthy budgies. When a budgie is well taken care of, its feathers should be smooth, glossy, and well-groomed.

An underlying health condition may cause damaged or fluffed feathers and bald spots.

According to Pathology of Wildlife and Zoo Animals, this includes psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) and abnormal molting.

Feather loss may also occur due to plucking, which budgies often do when bored or stressed.

4/ Regular Breathing

The breathing of a healthy budgie should be calm, smooth, and quiet.

If you observe your budgie breathing heavily or bobbing its tail as it breathes, this can signify a respiratory problem.

Other symptoms of respiratory issues that you should look out for include:

  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing
  • Staining of feathers around the nostrils

5/ Clear Skin

Ideally, your budgie’s skin should be smooth, clear, and free from inflammation, reddening, and swelling. Skin infections and injuries can affect feather growth, causing bald spots.

6/ Stable Weight

A healthy adult budgie’s weight should remain stable over time. Sudden and hard-to-explain changes may mean that your budgie is unhealthy.

As mentioned, budgies often lose their appetite when sick. This can cause them to drastically reduce weight and weaken their immune system further.

7/ Clean And Dry Vent

Your budgie’s cloaca should be dry and clear of any fecal matter.

However, if you notice your budgie’s vent is watery or stained, this may be due to diarrhea due to digestive or dietary issues.

Digestive problems that can cause diarrhea in budgies include:

  • Parasites, such as ascarids and protozoa
  • Yeast
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction

These symptoms can lead to severe problems if not diagnosed and treated early enough.

8/ Smooth And Firm Beak

A healthy budgie’s beak is smooth, firm, and symmetrical in shape, with no cracks or lesions. Moreover, it shouldn’t be discolored or have any patchy areas.

Budgies need healthy beaks for feeding, grooming, and protecting themselves against predators. So, any signs of beak disorders should be identified and addressed immediately.

Some common signs of unhealthy beaks include rough texture and overgrown beaks. These beak problems often arise due to nutritional deficiencies, such as not getting enough vitamin A.

9/ Healthy Droppings

Healthy budgie droppings are olive-green and contain whitish urates. They also have a stiff and soft consistency that is similar to toothpaste.

If a budgie’s poop is watery, this is a sign of diarrhea, which mostly occurs due to a poor diet. 

According to Avian Diseases, intestinal infections can cause severe diarrhea, leading to weight loss or death. However, abnormal droppings are easy to identify and serve as an early warning sign.

10/ Waxy and Smooth Cere

The cere is the fleshy, bulbous part right above a budgie’s beak. The cere should have a waxy appearance and be free of crusts or blockages.

Usually, the cere of male budgies is blue, whereas females are brown. However, budgies’ cere will often turn dark brown due to hormone-related reasons.

This is perfectly normal and not indicative of illness. It often means that your budgie has reached sexual maturity and is preparing to mate.

11/ Clear Nostrils

A healthy budgie’s nostrils should be dry and free from discharge. If you notice a watery discharge coming from your budgie’s nostrils, this could signify an upper respiratory tract infection.

12/ No Crusting of The Feet

The feet should be free of crusty residue, and the claws shouldn’t be overgrown.

One of the common foot problems affecting budgies is bumblefoot. This condition causes inflammation and severe pain, making it difficult for a budgie to walk.

If you notice any swelling or thick crusts around the feet, you should consult an avian vet.

13/ Flying with Ease

Applied Animal Behaviour Science shows that budgies spend more hours flying when given the opportunity. So, frequent flying can positively affect the mental health of birds.

Budgies’ wings should comfortably support it during flight.

However, Biological Sciences found that flight in birds is dependent on the clarity of their vision. This means erratic flight patterns and frequent collisions with objects may signal poor eyesight.

It can also mean a lack of muscle coordination.

14/ Regular Vocalization

Budgies are naturally chatty birds that can spend hours talking to the people and objects in their surroundings. So, it’s concerning if you notice your bird isn’t vocalizing as often as it should.

Changes in vocalization often occur when a budgie is unwell. Likewise, uncontrollable screaming might signify that your budgie is in distress or pain and discomfort.

how to know if my budgie is healthy

15/ Upright Posture

A healthy budgie should be able to maintain a natural upright posture at all times.

It’s abnormal for a budgie to lie down since this could leave it vulnerable to attacks by predators and slow down its response time during threats.

If your budgie is lying down or resting at the bottom of its cage more frequently, this may be a sign of chronic fatigue or illness.

Sometimes, healthy budgies will also lie down when shy or afraid. This is more common with budgies that have moved homes or changed owners.

16/ Frequent Play

Budgies are active birds that are curious about their living environment.

When kept in captivity, they spend most of their time playing with toys, such as perches and ropes. They also enjoy playtime with their owners and cage mates.

17/ Socialization

Healthy budgies enjoy playing and interacting with their owners and other budgies.

Behavioral Processes found that budgies form strong pair bonds with one another when a mirror is present, as it gives them the feeling of being in a flock.

Given their social nature, budgies get depressed easily when isolated from other birds or neglected by their owners. Conversely, they isolate themselves and avoid social interactions when stressed or sick.

How To Keep A Budgie Healthy

Keeping a budgie healthy isn’t as difficult as it may seem. You need to provide the right environment and scrutinize its physical and behavioral changes.

Here are some ways to keep a budgie in good health:

  • Ensure its cage is kept clean and tidy
  • Change out old food to prevent bacterial and mold growth
  • Ensure the budgie is drinking regularly
  • Provide enrichment toys to encourage play
  • If you have two budgies, check they’re playing and not fighting
  • Offer a nutrient and vitamin-rich diet
  • Give your budgie daily attention
  • Keep the room temperature at about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Include cuttlebone for calcium and to avoid beak overgrowth

With these suggestions in mind and the above signs of health to guide you, it should be relatively easy to keep your budgie in good health to reach its maximum lifespan.